Dekota Toot ’15

Major: Philosophy and Psychology
Hometown:Alliance, Ohio

I chose to major in philosophy because it tackles the big questions in life. In philosophy, you are never expected to accept anything as true just because somebody says so. It is up to the individual to judge what is true by reason rather than deferring to an authority figure for the answer.

Recent Successes

President Richard F. Giese first introduced six key areas that would help to define Mount Union’s future during his Inauguration speech in 2005. These later became known as his “six strategic initiatives.”

  • To develop a curriculum for the future
  • To enhance the traditional residential nature of our campus
  • To grow our enrollment
  • To increase the college’s financial strength 
  • To enhance the diversity of our campus community
  • To enhance the reputation and visibility of Mount Union

The following highlights the accomplishments that have occurred during Dr. Giese’s presidency as a result of a focus on these six strategic initiatives.


Develop a Curriculum for the Future

  • Added new undergraduate programs in intervention specialist, environmental science, medical technology, criminal justice, financial mathematics, public health, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, finance, human resource management, management, marketing, human development and family science, financial planning, communication studies, public relations, integrated media, nursing and national security, foreign intelligence analysis, school psychology and school social work
  • Launched the first two graduate programs in nearly a century – a Master of Science degree in physician assistant studies and a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership
  • Opened the Academic Planning Center, which offers guidance and assistance to students while they explore the possibilities for claiming or changing their major course of study
  • Offered start-up grants for faculty to develop and deliver online courses
  • Established SCHOLAR (Student Celebration Honoring Our Latest Academic Research) Day, which offers an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members to learn about students’ undergraduate research
  • Restructured and expanded the Honors Program
  • Piloted a portal device initiative in select courses
  • Transitioned the common course from three credits to four credits to emphasize in-depth study and student research
  • Completed a major revision of the general education curriculum, the Integrative Core
  • Announced the potential addition of a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program pending the appropriate approvals
  • Reconfirmed the institution’s commitment to an education that is grounded in the liberal arts
  • Launched Desire 2 Learn, a learning/course management system


Foster an Engaging Campus Community

  • Constructed new homes for Sigma Nu and Alpha Tau Omega, moved Phi Kappa Tau into a renovated house and explored new housing options for other fraternities and sororities on campus
  • Partnered with AVI Foodsystems and completed a $3 million renovation in the Hoover-Price Campus Center
  • Upgraded all traditional residence halls on campus
  • Constructed three new apartment-style housing villages on Union Avenue and Hartshorn Street
  • Opened the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex, the result of an $18 million renovation and addition to Mount Union’s wellness, recreation and athletic facilities
  • Experienced a significant increase in the number of Greek students on campus and moved formal recruitment for incoming students to the fall semester
  • Developed Exceptional Beginnings, a first year experience program
  • Launched and tested Blackboard Connect, a mass emergency communication system
  • Developed the Academic Mall gathering space in the core of campus
  • Launched the Exceptional Connections Program, which connects alumni and students for networking and career purposes
  • Initiated numerous partnerships with the Alliance community through service-learning and community service initiatives, programs that bring students and business leaders together, workshops held on campus, work with the local school district and partnerships with the city government and Chamber of Commerce
  • Established a new Learning  Commons and Café in the Kolenbrander-Harter Information Center
  • Achieved a 10-year high for sorority membership with 45.9% of women involved in the University’s three national sororities and one local sorority


Manage Strategic Enrollment Growth

  • Welcomed record-breaking freshman classes to campus in 2007, 2008 and 2012
  • Announced a record full-time enrollment of 2,166 students and an overall enrollment of 2,255 in fall 2010
  • Achieved a 10-year high in total student full-time enrollment of 2,263 in 2014 with an overall fourth all-time best freshman class of 694
  • Welcomed cohorts of physician assistant studies students in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • Utilized an outside consultant to aid in using financial aid more effectively and efficiently
  • Celebrated the graduation of the first three classes of physician assistant studies students, who scored high on both national tests required in the field and have experienced excellent success in career placement
  • Welcomed cohorts of master of arts in educational leadership students in 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • Opened the Gartner Welcome Center, which earned LEED Silver certification
  • Continued to offer a host of scholarship programs including the Presidential Scholarship Competition, Minority Achievement Award Competition and awards in the areas of music, art, theatre and communication
  • Adopted a campus-wide retention plan and improved retention rates, achieving the highest freshman to sophomore retention rate since 2006 at 78.3%


Ensure the Sustainable Management of Resources

  • Continued making investments in campus, which total more than $100 million in the past decade
  • Established the Sustainability Management Advisory Council to further green initiatives on campus and reduced energy costs by nearly 10%
  • In 2010, closed the Drive for Distinction Campaign, exceeding the campaign goal of $80 million with $82.3 million raised a year ahead of schedule
  • Established a new endowed chair and two endowed professorships
  • Completed a rolling five-year plan for financial stability and viability
  • Celebrated 60 years of balanced financial operations
  • Announced new giving levels for The Mount Union Fund
  • Completed the state-of-the-art Engineering and Business Building
  • Relocated the Physical Plant to a renovated facility
  • Renovated Beeghly Hall
  • Received the largest gift-in-kind in the institution’s history – a $24.1 million software grant from Siemens PLM Software for the Department of Engineering
  • Celebrated the third consecutive year that the University has surpassed the $10 million level in gifts and pledges (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14)
  • Completed a campus master planning process, identifying priority needs
  • Formed alumni clubs in Florida, New York, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, District of Columbia and Singapore
  • Successfully requested the vacation of four city streets in the core of the campus – Hartshorn Street from Rockhill to Penn, Clark Avenue from State to Hartshorn, Miller Avenue from Hartshorn to Simpson and College Street from Union to Miller
  • Implemented the first two of four phases of street closures to public traffic to provide for a more pedestrian-friendly campus – the closure of the section of Hartshorn Street that runs in front of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex and Mount Union Stadium as well as Stadium Drive and College Street and Miller Avenue outside of the Gartner Welcome Center, Bracy Hall and the Kolenbrander-Harter Information Center.
  • Completed a facelift to Mount Union Stadium, including new artificial turf, new locker rooms for men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s soccer, an expanded press box and new landscaping to officially close portions of Hartshorn Street and Stadium Drive
  • Continued work to create a more pedestrian-friendly campus with the addition of attractive and inviting gathering spaces featuring paved walkways, enhanced landscaping and new entrance gates along the east end of campus at the former intersection of Miller Avenue and College Street
  • Completed the $25 million campaign to fully fund the health and medical sciences building and the performing arts center and broke ground for both facilities
  • Opened Gallaher Hall, the University’s new health and medical sciences building
  • Continued construction on the new Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open in January of 2015
  • Achieved a record-high endowment of $145.7 million in 2014


Enhance the Diversity of Our Campus Community

  • Completed a campus climate study on diversity
  • Adopted a comprehensive Diversity Plan
  • Launched the Asian Initiative and established goals for faculty exchanges, internships and traveling study groups
  • Benefitted from productive trips to Asia that took President and Mrs. Giese, key faculty members, select administrators and several members of the Board of Trustees to Japan, China and Malaysia
  • Created alumni groups in Japan, Malaysia and Thailand
  • Established a Center for Global Education that encompasses all things international
  • Developed exchange relationships with institutions in India, Vietnam, China, Japan and Greece
  • Offered full tuition scholarships to Christ College in Bangalore, India
  • Launched an initiative to encourage faculty-led overseas seminars
  • Reached the initial goal of increasing diversity of the student body to 15% and increased the percentage to 17% in the fall of 2013
  • Established a relationship with Middle Tennessee State University
  • Hosted the Not Another Statistic Conference that deals with diversity issues
  • Launched the Discover China Program, a multi-faceted Chinese culture and language program
  • Reestablished a tradition of international touring for the Mount Union Concert Choir, with tours to Ireland and Italy
  • Transitioned the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which serves as a resource for all students of color and qualified persons with disabilities
  • Increased the diversity of the faculty 10% American minorities and 5% international faculty
  • Achieved an all-time high in the percentage of full-time female faculty at 45% in 2014
  • Established HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Latin Americans) and STAND (See the Ability Not Disability), two diversity-related student organizations that complement existing organizations such as the Black Student Union, Association of International Students, Association of Women Students and the Gay Straight Alliance
  • Achieved an all-time high for American minority students at 270


Broaden the Visibility and Reputation of the Institution

  • Continued to bring prominent speakers to campus through the Schooler Lecture Series
  • Celebrated the awarding of the prestigious Ohio Campus Compact Charles J. Ping Award for outstanding leadership and contributions to community service to numerous students
  • Launched LINC, a community luncheon series
  • Claimed its eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh NCAA Division III National Championships in football
  • Changed the designation of the institution from “college” to “university” upon approval of the Board of Trustees
  • Embarked on a market research effort that culminated in an institutional positioning, brand clarification and strategic marketing effort
  • Ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Washington Monthly
  • Recognized in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges
  • Named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
  • Granted Tree Campus USA status
  • Announced that, among members of the 2013 graduating class, 98% of those self reporting had started a degree-required career or were accepted to graduate school, all in an average of 30 days after graduation
  • Garnered national accreditations in athletic training, chemistry, education, health education, music, physical education and physician assistant studies
  • Hosted Buckeye Girls State on campus for the past four summers
  • Announced the awarding of Ohio Magazine’s Excellence in Education Award to five faculty members in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • Launched a new mobile app
  • Finished 19th in the nation in the final 2013-14 Learfield Sports Directors Cup NCAA Division III standings as the highest ranked NCAA Division III team in Ohio
  • Claimed a first NCAA Division III National Championship in men’s outdoor track and field in 2014
  • Ranked in the top 16% of four-year, private institutions in Ohio for the greatest lifetime return on investment by
  • Claimed a first NCAA Division III National Championship in men’s outdoor track and field
  • Launched a redesigned Mount Union Magazine and new online presence
  • Launched a new blog site – Passion Called Purple
  • Extended social media efforts to include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Wordpress, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+
  • Launched a new online tool – Merit – to promote student accomplishments via hometown news releases and social media
  • Launched a new website built in responsive design
  • Began planning for the Year of the Arts on campus in 2015 in conjunction with the opening of the new Performing Arts Center
  • The inaugural Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) Baja Team raced to the top as it placed 29th overall and 14th in maneuverability out of more than 120 registered schools competing in the Baja SAE event
To The Top!